Do you see what He sees?
Paper Trail is a monthly feature, profiling a story originally published in Issue One of MAGNIFY. You can order the print issue in our online shop.
How much are you worth? Stop and think about it for a moment. How do you calculate value? There are seven billion other humans, so are you really ‘worth it’?
Worth is dictated by a simple calculation: the value of something is the amount someone is prepared to pay for it. There are many ways we could work this out.
First, we could approach value scientifically. Science would value us according to our constituent elements, which break down into water, dust and minerals. Atomically, we are made up of approximately 65 percent oxygen, 18 percent carbon, 10 percent hydrogen and six percent other minerals. Scientifically, the value of our bodies is less than five dollars. But that does not really add up, right?
Second, we might turn to economic value. Economics would value us by the financial worth we generate. For instance, your employer might pay you according to the value of your time, or the value you create for the company. A life insurance provider will charge you a premium based on an assumed economic value of your life. But there’s a dark side to economic conceptions of individual value. In 1999 an eBay auctioneer posted a listing for one of his own kidneys on the online auction site. Bidding started at $25,000 and rocketed to five million before eBay shut down the auction for violating federal anti organ trafficking laws. Economics alone cannot truly determine your value. Your life has to be worth more than your earning power.
Third, we might think about market value. Markets value something by the amount the highest bidder is prepared to pay. For example, the scandal of human trafficking values an individual by trading in the commodity of human life. According to CNN’s Freedom Project, in 1809 the value of a slave (in today’s money) was $40,000. Today, however, the average price paid for a slave is $90, and there are in excess of 27 million illegally traded slaves worldwide.
Fourth, we could look at a ransom valuation. Hostage negotiation values an individual by the ransom that must be paid for their freedom. The most expensive ransom ever paid is said to have been the famous ‘King’s Ransom’ paid to the Duke of Austria, Leopold V, for the release of King Richard the Lionheart in 1190. The captive king was released in exchange for 150,000 marks, which would value his life at $3.3 billion in today’s prices.
Stark as it may seem, human value can only be truly determined – in logical terms – by how much someone is prepared to pay for you. This leaves the universe a pretty cold place, unless there is a deeper economics at work.
So imagine for a moment there is a God and that He values you. What price do you think He would set? Is He bothered? Perhaps He’s got to be realistic; after all, there are seven billion people alive today. If there was a God, surely He’d have better things to do than to place value on you and me? Perhaps the notion of value is so abstract, and the idea of a God so vague that it’s impossible to quantify or qualify this. How could an abstract, invisible concept like God make concrete the idea of your value?
The only way we could truly determine the value of a human life would be if God were to transact in such a way that revealed the value of a life. Only one account in the history of humanity gives a satisfactory answer to this problem. There is one unique narrative in the whole of religion, one stand-alone idea in the whole of philosophy or history, and it is unique to the Christian story: that Jesus has paid a price for your life. The Bible tells a story of a God who loved us so much that He traded His own Son’s life for your life. One transaction on a rough wooden cross, where Jesus died to save us, to ransom your life and show you how much He loves you. The king himself has paid the king’s ransom for you. God gave that which was most expensive, most precious and most costly: His very own life. A priceless transaction. Why? So that we would be left in no doubt of our inherent value to God.
What is the value of your life? Your value is certain. To God, you are precious because you are loved. God’s love is not limited, temporary or measured. God’s love for you is unlimited, unchanging and unending. It breaks through our stereotypes and our understanding. You are loved without borders or boundaries. Love has a face and love has a name. You are of incalculable value because Jesus Himself considered your life worth paying the ultimate price for.
Science can’t reduce you, economics can’t measure you, markets can’t price you. To Jesus, you’re priceless.
WORDS BY Al Gordon
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jo Duck